French duo Vague and Avitus who comprise this enigmatic black metal outfit have constructed a debut release that is as ferocious as it is utterly beguiling and enthralling. Within the five compositions the band has developed their own sonic tapestry onto which they weave sumptuous melodies, amidst the maelstrom of obsidian wrath. Each track is long, epically structured for maximum impact as the album initiates with the relatively short “As He Runs Towards The Stars” clocking nearly ten minutes. The opening bleak riff situates the song in desolation as the bass reinforces the foundation laid down by the guitar work and snapping drum work. The band elongates sections of their songs for maximum effect but when the track abruptly but cohesively shifts into a newer focus the style is borderline heavy metal, with a cool hook that sits on top of the mix to great effect.

Colossal and amplified epic traits adorn “Entering The Domain Of The Solar Sovereign” which opens with a brief eerie soundscape before the eruption of blackened riffing that is tempered by some unusual hooks, yet at its beating ebonized heart is the black metal fury where chaotic half blasts are intermingled with energised guitar breaks that will have you either scratching your head at their inclusion or, like me, truly absorbed by the way this duo smoothly melds these facets into their music. The opening section is hypnotically transfixing with a repeating guitar riff and hook pummelling the listener before the exceptional transition into calming solemnity. That serenity unfolds via an atmospheric piece before unleashing a pure 70s rock riff extravaganza, with its catchy vibe and psychedelic aura. The guitar work is breathtaking at times, each note and nuance is expertly delivered and considering this is only a debut one can wholly appreciate the masterfulness displayed.

“La Dédale Des Astres Et Des Âmes” begins in a more traditional black metal style with blasting drums coupled to rancorous riffing and throat stripping vocals, as that chaotic nature I have mentioned is evident through the ever evolving frenetic relentlessness. The addition of various subtle electronics create a spacey feel too, being peppered into the mix as the vocals decrease in tone by massive octaves into demonic growls that are beastly and monstrously effective. Those electronics materialise fully with a keyboard embellishment that is melancholically haunting and creepy. As the song develops it continually morphs like sonic shapeshifting as the songs despondency unfurls into the deft melody that is beauteously tearful right before the colossal switch back to blasting dementedness as some deft bass work is cemented into the track creating that progressiveness I have stated earlier.

This tremendous release closes with the even more ambitious “La Mer Pourpre”, an 18 minute plus aural experience like no other. The opening sequence of sound effects is quickly supplanted by raging blackened acrimony bolstered by the savage vocals as the song is embedded with a variety of guitar trickery that push the song into pandemonium. Yet everything is highly controlled as that 70s rock ethos thrusts into the mix with a protracted guitar hook that stabs into the mix before the track hurtles into an uncontrollable drum frenzy, where the song brusquely halts for a calm semi acoustic phase. There is a bereft isolation at this juncture where an isolated guitar eventually enters the fold creating a fine counterpoint in the track, which leads to the song constantly evolving, effusing outright expansive tension. As the density increases so does the speed in ever increasing stages as the song takes on a post-black stature and the addition of clean vocals is superbly worked into the song. Being clear and focused the lyrics really to come to their fore, a facet of this album that is exceptional as each line is expertly crafted with excellent superlatives that enable the listener to visualise the musical output with ease yet create your images if needed as this album is a multidimensional sonic exploration that will leave you completely immersed.

(8.5/10 Martin Harris)